Ares napped on his Olympus throne, completely oblivious to the council meeting taking place around him. Athena sighed in irritation, wondering why her father didn't just zap the war god with his lightning bolt. She definitely would have. As she had permission to use it, the only thing standing in her way was the fact that her father's speech was way too interesting to detract her attention.
At the beginning of the meeting, Zeus's monotonous speech had driven Apollo and Hermes to boredom, wondering whether they would ever be able to actually speak. The blond-haired duo were anxious to get the meeting over with early, before the thing was set to occur.
Poseidon had taking it upon himself to devise a new game as he waited for his brother to kindly stop talking. He created little droplets of water and flicked them towards the base of Athena's throne, annoying the wisdom goddess even more. When he screwed up his aim and hit her leg instead of her chair, she sent a fierce glare his way, before turning her eyes back on her father, clearly the only one not bothered by the anti-climactic speech. In fact, the grey-eyed goddess appeared to be embracing it.
Zeus droned on and on, unaware that Athena was the only one still listening. Aphrodite lounged on her throne, looking deeply in thought, twirling her auburn tresses around her finger.
Dionysus held a bottle of wine up to his lips, finding the alcohol to be more pleasurable than listening to his father's talk. Artemis moved restlessly in her chair, unable to find a comfortable position. She contemplated going off to hunt and skipping the meeting. She was positive no one would notice. Over half the Olympian council were already starting to droop their eyelids.
Holding a platter with food and drink, leaning against a wall, a six year old girl stood, her straight, blond hair pulled back to keep her hair out of the nectar on the plate. Her sparkling blue eyes lit with the innocence that would be expected on such a youthful soul.
She held on the dish carefully, knowing that it was important that she did not spill the nectar that sat upon her plate, or drop ambrosia on the filthy throne room floor. Her eyes flickered to the other side of the room, glancing at the other cupbearer.
The golden haired boy glanced back at her with eyes like chocolate, and she knew from other gods both female and male alike that he would taste just as sweet, but she felt no temptation in shifting her appearance to gain ten years to test this. Men, even as beautiful as Ganymede, did not interest the goddess. The boy smiled at her, causing her to send a wide grin back.
Finally, Apollo spoke up. "Father," Lord Zeus glanced up. "There is some important information Hermes and I have to tell you." This was about the time that Ares awoke from his slumber.
Hermes stood up, shaking a bit as he did so, in worry that Zeus would smite him with his bolt. The god made it all the way past the Lord of the Sky's throne to where they kept a rather bland-appearing white board, though none of them were quite sure why they bothered with it. However, at this moment, Hermes looked focused as he picked up a marker and briskly wrote in Greek as if the message was urgent. Athena read aloud, "The Grief of Crete has returned from the dead."
It wasn't even the worst thing they had to share, but everyone reacted to it. "Impossible." Hephaestus muttered under his breath, and several other members of the Olympian Council gasped.
"I told you we should have killed her from the start." Ares groaned, "Instead, what do you do? Freeze the girl in ice." One look from Athena told him that she agreed, just as she had when the threat occurred. Artemis sent Ares a disapproving look.
"When was she released?"
"We don't know." Apollo answered.
"Not even you? I thought you were the all-knowing god of prophecies."
"I say, kill her." Ares screamed in rage.
"Will you shut up? I thought we all agreed after that last disastrous time that your vote doesn't count when we are discussing whether to kill someone or let them live." Poseidon yelled back, grabbing for his trident.
"I thought the only reason you agreed to let her live was because Owl Head wanted her killed." Ares retorted. Athena didn't look all that offended, her expression suggesting that she'd already zoned them out.
"Partially, yes. I always take into account Athena's decision when deciding something. I still hate her for taking Athens from me, and then she had to audacity to make my girlfriend hideous." Athena snapped back into reality at that moment, frowning at the embellishment what had happened all those millennia ago. She scowled at him as he continued. "However, this so called, "Grief of Crete" was only five years old. Why Owl Head wanted her killed is a wonder to me. Besides, I thought it was Athena's duty to protect heroes or something like that."
"It is." Athena replied. "But she is not a hero, and Poseidon, I still hate you for what you and your 'girlfriend' did in my temple. Disgusting! And what in Hades were you planning to call Athens anyway, if they had chosen you?"
"I don't know… It never happened."
"Shut up, Owl Head."
Athena sighed. " And Owl Head? How does that even make sense?"
"Well, what about Olive Tree?"
"Why Olive Tree?"
"Well, you gave the Athenian people an olive tree as your gift to them, right?"
"Yes, I got that part." She answered, "But since my olive tree beat your seawater fountain, why would you nickname me Olive Tree? Is that not poking fun at yourself for losing? Therefore, calling me Olive Tree is a compliment, not an insult. I should have known not to debate with someone so insipid of a man."
"Well, what about Demi-Fly?" He asked. "Because your mother was a fly while she was pregnant with you?"
Athena scowled, clearly done with such a ridiculous discussion and turned her attention back to the meeting, her mind already thinking of ways to eliminate the threat that is the Grief of Crete.
"Wait," Someone spoke up. "Someone has to have been blocking the Misery of Crete from Apollo, but who…"
"And there's something even worse." Hermes stated, while the room wondered what could be worse than that. "We have an issue." He glanced at the nectar on Ganymede's tray. Before he could continue however Demeter and Hera falling from their thrones and passing out. Hestia, cross-legged on the ground in front of the hearth, fell over and followed suit. The cup that she had been drinking nectar out of fell to the ground, landing partly into the hearth.
"What the Hades?"
"Maybe it was father's horrible speeches." Dionysus mumbled, reading a magazine dedicated just to wine. He took a sip of nectar from his goblet, before passing out himself.
"The nectar's been poisoned!" remarked the young child against the wall, her eyes filled with panic and worry as she watched her mother now unconscious on the ground.
Athena, Hermes, and Apollo headed to Hestia's side. Athena frowned gravely. "This is serious. I recognize this. It is a specific potion that only Hecate herself—or one of her attendants or champions—could pull off. For two weeks they will lie there unconscious until an antidote can be delivered. After fourteen days, they will die, god or not." Athena said.
"It was probably the Grief of Crete who did it." Ares mumbled, though he also looked worried, staring at Hera in concern. Artemis and Poseidon glanced at each other, both certain that it couldn't possibly have been the Grief of Crete. They remained silent as to not look suspicious.
Hermes pointed to the hearth. "When that fire goes out we will be out of time."
"So, only Hecate—or someone she taught—could pull this off, but she wouldn't consider doing this, would she?" Artemis asked.
"She wouldn't." Hephaestus agreed. "It doesn't sound like something she would do, but someone she trained could very well pull it off if they were skilled enough."
Apollo spoke up. "I think it's best that we let the minor demigods take care of this. Or, at least my remaining Oracle does. I discussed the matter with her this morning. The future was hazy, but that much was clear.
Everyone looked at Apollo, taking in the words too ridiculous to digest. Demigod children of minor, unimportant gods? Ares sputtered, "What? Surely Emery, or myself, could do just f—"
Hephaestus sighed, muttering words in Greek, likely insults towards Ares. "The Oracle said so. Best not to disagree."
Athena whispered something into Zeus's ear. The king of the gods scratched his beard in thought. "Ares, go to Enyo and ask for minor demi-gods. Hephaestus, go with him." The two immediately started to object. Artemis laughed, finding it hilarious. Men.
Athena looked at her father incredulously. Apparently whatever she'd said had nothing to do with Ares or Hephaestus. "Are you sure sending those two was a smarti dea? I would much rather—"
"Hermes, go with them." Athena still looked upset. Poseidon rolled his eyes, knowing that Athena probably wanted to go see her own champion. Interesting, wasn't her Champion a daughter of Hedylogos, a minor god?
Meanwhile, in Albania, nineteen demi-gods sat on bleachers watching a duel between a daughter of Ares and a son of Apollo. Seventeen-year-old Emery Yoshimura, daughter of Ares, clung onto her scimitar sword as she smirked at her defeated opponent. The challenger glared at her.
"I'm the daughter of Ares. I always win at this game." Emery pointed out, noticing his disappointment.
"Whatever. At least I can still walk away with the knowledge that no matter what you do, I will still kick your ass at archery."
"And any poetry competition in the next 3 months." One of the more masculine spectators called out, likely half-brother of Emery. It was hard to keep track of all the children of the gods that were in Central. The thirty-two chosen ones were always changing.
The twenty-year-old archer rolled his eyes from the comment, before leaning down to kiss Emery on the lips. She kissed him back willingly.
Emery's sword kept a lot of potential spar partners at bay, the 2-foot-long curved obsidian blade was terrifying when pressed again anyone's neck. It was given to her when she turned seven by Ares and the skills she'd acquired over the years that it was in her possession were just as deadly as the sword looked.
In the crowd watching was Leah Hunt, daughter of Nereus, the old man of the sea. Being the child of a minor god the seventeen-year-old was often overlooked for quests, but she was also considered one of the most talented demi-gods of the recent generation of heroes, having inherited her father's shape-shifting abilities. This was the sole reason that Enyo had chosen her as a member of Central.
Wyn Everest attacked a dummy with his mace, before glancing at the sparring couple as they headed back to the bleachers, two other Central members taking their place in the fight, one he recognised as a Lieutenant. He returned to his training. The spikes on Wyn's mace were made out of sharp icicles that never melted or broke: a must-have for a son of the snow goddess.
Bored out of his mind, he eventually stopped and used his powers to freeze an ant on the ground, and then applied enough pressure to the dummy with ice that it blew up. He wasn't the best with his powers, though he'd been training with them since he was much smaller, around five years of age actually.
Leah snuck a glance at Wyn when she thought he wasn't watching. She liked watching him blow stuff up with ice. It was way more intriguing than watching two people spar, even if he wasn't the greatest at it.
She slipped out of the crowd and hid behind a boulder. It was hard for her body, tall at five foot seven, to condense enough to be completely hidden, but by then she had done this enough that she had gotten used to it.
This time, however, Tyche, goddess of luck, was not on her side. Wyn caught her.
The first time in nine months.
Who's there?" Wyn called, his English accent clear and crisp. He had only seen a flash of golden brown hair before the person had crouched down.
His heart beat loud in his chest when the person stood up and he saw those distinguishable sea green eyes. Wyn had been in Central for more than three years, but he'd never talked to her. Never had the courage to.
"What's your name?" Wyn asked her, even though he already knew.
"Leah Hunt. I'm seventeen. I was born in Miami, Florida."
"Wyn Everest. I'm also seventeen. Born in Bristol. What were you doing back there, Leah?"
"Uh… um… Honing my sleuthing skills." Well, it was half-true.
"'And you chose me as your unwitting target."
"It works out nicely. You never noticed until today."
Wyn blushed. How long had Leah been coming to spy on him? He hoped he didn't make a fool of himself in front of her.
A rumble shook the whole area. Wyn almost fell over. Leah instinctively grabbed his arm to keep him steady.
"Thank you." He mumbled, the red on his cheeks darkening.
"Yeah, no problem." She whispered, something she only did when she was nervous.
"Well, we both know what that noise meant." Wyn said. "We should prepare for an assembly."
Leah nodded. A god had arrived.